Classes at kindergartens and schools for children with disabilities were suspended on Wednesday, as the Hong Kong Observatory expected to issue the typhoon signal No 3 between 11am and 1pm due to the approach of Tropical Storm Barijat.
These schools, however, should keep their premises open and use contingency measures to look after arriving students, the weather authority said. The schools should also ensure that conditions were safe before allowing students to return home.
At 10am, Barijat was estimated to be about 200km southeast of the city and was expected to move west at 18km/h towards the coast of western Guangdong.
The storm was expected to skirt about 100 to 200km south of Hong Kong in the afternoon, the forecaster said, adding that local winds would strengthen gradually with occasional squally showers.
Rain aside, the Observatory, which issued the typhoon signal No 1 at 10.40am on Tuesday, said the weather on Wednesday was forecast to be sunny at times . The maximum temperature was expected to be about 30 degrees Celsius.
“Weather will deteriorate significantly with frequent heavy rain, and seas will be rough with swells on Sunday,” it said.
In addition to Barijat, the weather authority earlier warned Hongkongers to brace themselves for Super Typhoon Mangkhut over the weekend. Forecasts showed Mangkhut would move closer to the South China Sea by the weekend. It could be “very close” to Hong Kong then, the agency’s acting senior scientific officer Daniel Yeung Kwok-chung said.
“If Mangkhut passes through Luzon [in the Philippines] or Taiwan before entering South China Sea, its strength could be reduced with the impact of land,” he said, noting that the super typhoon was now forecast to enter the South China Sea after passing through the Luzon Strait.
The Observatory predicted a 40 to 50 per cent chance that Mangkhut would pass within 120km of Hong Kong.
For now, the weather on Sunday is expected to be cloudy with frequent heavy rain and thunderstorms. The wind could go up to a Force 8 gale. The Observatory said Mangkhut’s outer subsiding air would bring generally fine and very hot weather to Guangdong on Friday and early Saturday.
Hong Kong-based airlines Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon on Tuesday announced they would waive charges for rebooking or re-routing tickets for flights arriving to or departing from Hong Kong between Sunday and Monday, September 16 and 17.
Only tickets issued worldwide on or before Tuesday, September 11, would be eligible for the waiver.
Hong Kong Airlines had a similar arrangement, which would apply to flights between September 16 and 18.
On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Department recorded “higher than normal” air pollution levels and said the air quality health index at some air monitoring stations might reach “serious”, the highest level of the index, later in the day.
At 5pm, five stations – including those in Tuen Mun and Tung Chung– recorded an air pollution level of 10, indicating a “very high” health risk.
Levels at the remaining 11 stations ranged from 6 to 9, indicating a “moderate” to “very high” health risk.